I am not a professional adventurer, or a world traveler. You won’t find beautiful images of Iceland on my Instagram feed (hopefully one day!) And I don’t live permanently in an RV (although I have friends who do!) I’m a regular mom, living on a budget, who makes “adventuring” an important part of my motherhood experience. And that’s why I’m writing this- for the regular, everyday moms who aren’t in a season of world travel just yet.
I believe that adventure is important, especially with babies!
Here’s why: When I was pregnant with my first, I remember talking with a friend who told me that “once you have kids, it will be a long time before you can go anywhere exciting!” Being a young mom who hadn’t even come close to experiencing everything on my list, I felt a pit in my stomach. This pit was immediately followed by one thought: “Watch me.”
Like most of you, we don’t have the funds to travel the world for our full-time job (more power to you if you do)! Yet, we find ways to have adventures- and often. My babies are small, and in the short two years that I’ve been a mother, we have traveled the United States, hiked, and explored our own state! My babies are familiar with a road-trip, a hiking backpack and an airplane. I find this to be very valuable. Often, they’re strapped to our backs, in our arms, or in one of our many strollers (I have a stroller hoarding problem. Oops.)
I believe it is infinitely important to teach our children to love the world around them- no matter how small they are. A baby can develop a love of grass, fresh air and birds. A toddler can marvel at beautiful architecture, new tastes and smells. Our children can develop a love for new environments- whether its a crowded city or a quiet lake.
Yes, this makes it harder. Much harder. That’s the point.
I believe adventuring with babies is important because of the challenge.
We recently attempted a hike that was definitely not intended to be done with children on our backs. The path was untrodden, muddy, and had us physically climbing with our hands at times. In fact, during the last section of the hike, we waded upstream in a shallow river- our babies toes dipping in the water. Many people passing us gave us a wide-eyed look, followed by, “Good luck!” We looked at each other several times during that hike and asked, “What are we doing?” When we finished the three-hour hike, we felt stronger. We felt accomplished. And best of all, we had enjoyed amazing views, gushing waterfalls and rainforest sounds with our boys. Our two-year-old pointed at the birds and flowers. He splashed in the water, and I was pleased with his experience.
Our marriage has become stronger because we adventure with our kids. We work together to solve problems, share tasks and carry the load. We trust each other and learn to communicate openly and fully.
I am stronger for taking them on adventures by myself! I take the lead as their guide and protector. I make decisions, I build muscle as I haul them around. There is something so thrilling about exploring as a mother with her little ones.
Our relationship as a family is stronger because we explore with them. They trust us. They cling to us, and they know we will keep them safe along the way. We bond on airplanes, we bond on hiking trails, we bond on road-trips. We make memories regularly.
Have the experiences- even if they won’t remember them!
I’ve often heard the excuse, “I don’t want to bring my kids because they won’t remember it!” This makes perfect sense if you really can’t afford to bring them along. For me, though, I simply don’t care that they won’t remember. I believe that what they experience in their everyday life now, is just as important, and can be just as rewarding- even if it eventually fades from their memory. Exploring San Francisco, I watched my boys bark at the seals, smoother their faces in a Ghirardelli sundae and gaze at the Golden Gate Bridge. It was rewarding for me. It filled my soul, and best of all, I knew they were relishing the joy of seeing new places.
I don’t mind that they’ve forgotten. In that moment, they experienced it right along with me. And their joy, gave me joy.
Things will go wrong. And that’s okay.
Just laugh. When you’re waiting in a humid car rental booth for hours because your reservation got cancelled by accident, laugh. When your toddler actually hates sand and you’re on a beach, just laugh and use that as a reason to cuddle in a beach chair. Things will go wrong, and that is part of the adventure! It won’t always be this challenging, so embrace the season you’re in… and laugh!
You can start right now!
Like I’ve mentioned, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to go on adventures with your little ones. A road trip to somewhere interesting, escaping to a nearby pond, or even saving for a small weekend trip to a new city, are great ways to have adventures with your little ones.
We love the All Trails app, which allows us to have access to any nearby hikes with info about difficulty and length! Using a Sky Miles program, or any type of travel rewards, has been a great way for us to afford at least one flight a year to somewhere new. Road-tripping to nearby cities with lots to explore has been our go-to adventure, and we often stay in an Airbnb to save money! We invested in baby carriers that we’ve used tirelessly (and one of them, we even bought on Craigslist! Shh!)
Don’t forget, you can have adventures in your own city, or even in your own backyard. Do things that are out of your comfort zone- show your children new things, teach them about their world.
No matter how small they are, no matter how difficult it may seem, you can do it.
And when you’re exploring together, you’ll feel it! Your eyes will well up, and your heart will flutter. You will see the world through their eyes. You will feel closer to them. And best of all, you won’t have to give up the “adventure” just because you had babies.
Some of my most precious memories are that of sharing an adventure with my favorite little humans. Somehow it’s always better that way.
So, what are you waiting for? Strap them on your back and get going!
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